Pastor Sean, Can you answer the question: Why do you rail against video games so much?

Video games will be the demise of our society. Now I know that seems like a ridiculous statement, and one that is certainly not worthy of legitimate consideration, but I wonder if you have ever read anything that qualifies as a serious evaluation of the problem. According to Boy Genius Report, “there are currently over 34 million core gamers in the United States, and they are playing video games for an average of 22 hours a week.” And twice as many play video games on a regular basis. Twenty-hours a week indulging in video games is the equivalent of a part time job, only nothing productive is being accomplished. If a person made $10 an hour for their part-time job that would be the equivalent of $11,400 a year in extra income.  Seriously, 22 hours—isn’t that a crazy amount of time? Consider with me for a moment if you knew a friend who played cards for 22 hours a week, would you think they have a problem? 22 hours averages out to over 3 hours a day, every day.  Gamers enter a notional world for hours at a time where God is not the King and His glory doesn’t matter.  Even the simplest of games, like ‘Angry Birds’ and others, contain absolutely nothing edifying. All the thinking, planning, strategizing, etc. accomplishes nothing. Conquering a new higher level is NOT an accomplishment; it is nothing more than a time waster. Think about violent games like ‘Call of Duty’ where people are being blown away by machine guns. Or games where laws are being broken or provocative women suggest immoral behavior. Where is God in all this? He is absent. Sin is absent. My Christian values do not translate into the virtual world of the video game.  His Word and His Glory are both absent.  Yet Isaiah 43:7 tells me I was created for God’s glory.

And I must realize that for every minute I am in the virtual world of gaming, I am not doing anything for God’s glory.  Gaming needs to be limited. Extreme self-control needs to be exercised, and gaming should not take precedence over doing things that need to be done. For example if my car is trashed with dirt, McDonald’s wrappers, Mt. Dew bottles, coffee cups, etc., I should not be gaming. If my grass needs to be cut, I should not be gaming. If the dishes are dirty or the laundry needs to be done, I should not be gaming. Parents, be the boss and come down hard on gaming if Johnny’s grades are not where they should be or his bedroom is trashed. Set limits. If I haven’t read my Bible, I should not be gaming. Do you know how many young men I see coming to church on Sundays exhausted from staying up late on Saturday watching movies, playing video games, etc.? Those choices scream that corporate worship is NOT important to me.  I am more concerned with being successful in the virtual world of gaming than glorifying God with the body of Christ.

Last year in South Korea, a couple let their biological child die while they were taking care of a notional baby in a video game world (Newsweek, July 27, 2014). Imagine that! And of course, that isn’t you. I know that’s not you. You would never do that. But that tragic event points to the problem loud and clear. We have a growing number of people in all societies that would rather play basketball with a controller than an orange ball outside.  Let’s be clear: I am not saying a father and son playing 30 minutes of FIFA video soccer is a problem when it’s raining outside. But when the sun is out—get outside and kick a real ball, shoot a real gun, throw a real ball, jump a real fence, run down a real path in the woods with air soft guns that actually sting when you shoot each other. Christians live in the real world. We are salt and light in the real world. Jesus did not have a ‘man cave’ where he retreated from the rest of the world and relived childhood fantasies.  Learn a card game. Have a conversation with someone face to face instead of via a controller headset. Take a girl to the movies and then have a conversation about the movie face to face over a milkshake. The reason our social interaction skills are so often underdeveloped is that the boys are playing video games instead of conversing with girls.

Video games are negatively impacting our ability to do constructive things, read edifying articles and books, comprehend the written word, sustain legitimate conversations, accomplish productive tasks, fix things, exercise our bodies, play an instrument or sport, sing a song, pray, experiment, discover something new, and ultimately glorify God (1 Cor. 10:31). An entire generation is growing up without becoming real men—and without men a society cannot sustain itself. Men provide and protect in the real world, and too much time in the notional world directly and negatively impacts effectiveness, and even worse, the ability to survive and thrive in the real world.  Christians should frequently fast from video games and dedicate the time otherwise devoted to gaming to something that will actually glorify God.


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